This week’s Thrifty Finds: Week One, June 2018

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How has your June been so far? It’s been very warm here but the pollen count has been really high, making it almost unbearable at times ☹️ But I’ve still got out and enjoyed the garden.

1. My parents bought us a new set of garden furniture and we were able to free cycle the old table and chairs. They were collected within two hours of posting!

2. I also donated a bag of children’s things to a local charity shop.

3. A friend gave me the most beautiful bunch of roses from her garden. She had taken my daughter camping for the Bank Holiday so it should have been me giving her flowers! They smelt sooo amazing 😄

 

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4. After being caught out (again) last Saturday by not having space to pack a reusable coffee cup I treated myself to a collapsible Stojo cup. It’s amazing! It works as an ordinary cup but collapses to pocket size. There’s no excuse now for buying single use!

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5. I also managed a (nearly) plastic free trip to the local town. Buying from the greengrocers is easy peasy using my produce bags or buying the items loose. I managed to buy a whole chicken wrapped just in a plastic bag (without a tray) from the butchers, but I failed to get an Ecover refill at the health food store as I had bought in the wrong bottle ☹️ Apparently they can only refill from Ecover bottles!!

Tomorrow (5 June) is World Environment Day and this year’s challenge is to avoid single use. Follow #BeatPlasticPollution to find out more. I’m going to London tomorrow so will try to avoid plastic packaging all day. I’ll let you know how I get on…

 

Second-hand shopping in Chippenham

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While I spend quite a lot of time browsing the second hand shops in Bath, I’m also known to do some charity shopping in the market town of Chippenham. This Wiltshire town is only eight miles from where I live and, unlike Bath, has a lot of those useful cheaper shops such as Wilkinsons and a large Poundland – as well as a good range of charity shops.

At one end of the High Street (closer to the train station) is a small grouping of four charity shops.

Dorothy House and Age UK are located next to each other. The Dorothy House has a good selection of toys and games, and is well worth browsing for clothes. At the neighbouring Age UK I have picked up a couple of good items: a vintage black dress, and a women’s navy suit (for a Margaret Thatcher outfit!)

Vintage dress from Age UK

Across the road from these shops is the RSPCA. Earlier in the year it was damaged by fire. It’s good to see it back in place on the High Street. This is a welcoming store with lots of space and a big selection of homeware. The prices are very reasonable as well, and you can pick up some good vintage clothing (as below)

 

Further along is the Oxfam shop. Oxfam shops never disappoint. They always have a good selection of clothes and homeware and, in most cases, a large dedicated book section. This Oxfam also has a bridal department downstairs.

The rest of Chippenham’s charity shops are located in the pedestrianised part of the High Street. British Heart Foundation is centrally located. Although it is quite small it has a large selection of clothing.

Further along is the Blue Cross shop, which sells vinyl as well as clothing, toys, books and homeware.

My personal favourite, though, is the Julian House charity shop which opened a couple of years ago. Julian House is the Bath based charity which works with excluded people; one of the projects it runs is a homeless hostel in Bath (see also Chippenham’s Doorway Project which works with homeless and vulnerable people).

The curved window of the Julian House shop is very eye catching:

Inside the clothes and accessories are laid out with lots of space between them:

It also has a great vinyl selection:

I recently picked up my favourite Henry Holland dress from this shop and, although not as cheap as other charity shops, its clothing section is well worth a browse.

Beyond Julian House is the Red Cross Shop. In the past I’ve picked up some great LPs from here.

Not pictured, and located beyond the High Street, is Magpie Vintage: a second-hand shop selling vintage clothing, homeware and, upstairs, a dedicated music department.

And beyond that is Chippenham’s other record shop, Scratch the Surface, which sells new and old vinyl.

Finally I can’t talk about charity shopping in Chippenham without mentioning the dedicated second hand furniture and electrical stores. Dorothy House and  British Heart Foundation  are located in the centre of Chippenham. The furniture store Waste Not Want Not is on the outskirts. In the past we have donated, and bought from, all three of these stores.

Below are some of our purchases incl: ice cream maker, bread maker, vacuum, sofa, keyboard and vacuum cleaner 🙂

 

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (6-12 March)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

Hello! How was your week? Did you have any Thrifty Finds, make any savings or choose  not to buy?At the weekend we ran our Repair Cafe, I also inherited a new armchair and carried on with reducing our food waste.

1. The Repair Cafe was pretty successful. We changed location, gained a new volunteer (who will be doing plastic repairs at the next cafe), and had a visit from colleagues in another part of the county who will be running their first Repair Cafe in May. I also got a moth eaten item of clothing fixed by the lovely Alison, our volunteer seamstress.

 

 

 

 

2. My parents bought along two items to be looked at: their Kenwood mixer (which is as old as me!) was easily fixed, but their paper shredder was a no go. However I’ve taken the wire basket from the shredder and am now using it as a waste paper basket at home.

3. Following the Repair Cafe I came home and fixed our vacuum cleaner all by myself! I had ordered a new belt for it and, following an excellent YouTube video, I was able to replace it!

4. My parents very generously gave us their old armchair, which fits perfectly in our sitting room:

 

 

5. I continued to work hard to reduce our food waste, following the ecothriftyliving blog and Facebook group. We’ve eaten banana bread, apple muffins and lots of leftovers this past week!

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Upcycled garden sheds

 

garden shed, made from two old sheds and fence panel

My very clever husband has spent the last few days building four sheds for our garden. Like our house, our garden is very small (we only have one garden as the back of our house is joined onto another). With three growing children we really need to maximise the space we have and so this summer we have lots of plans.

First of all we/he removed the three old sheds that were taking up too much space in the garden. We had a good sort out and recycled, freecycled and threw away stuff that we no longer needed (a liberating experience). He then made use of the old sheds, as well as an old fence panel from a friend, and made these four storage areas:

upcycled garden sheds

(l-r: garden shed for tools etc, wood store, closed bin shed, lift up storage chest for outdoor games and chairs)

The doors on the left hand and two far right sheds were taken from our old sheds. Some of the panelling was reconstructed from the old fence panel. We did buy some new material from B&Q, but found that we didn’t need as much of it after all.

I’m really pleased with the shed for the bin.

bin shed

Having only one garden we struggle with where to store our bins. In fact, this venture has forced me to contact the council and get rid of our large plastic & cardboard recycling bin. We only put it out for collection once a month/every six weeks so we have asked for a replacement canvas bag that will be a lot easier to store.

I have also discovered that I quite like organising sheds (?!) and have enjoyed decluttering and then re-ordering the tool shed.

shed

The location of the sheds against the house wall has freed up some much needed space. We now have a pleasant area in which to sit and the sheds have been relocated to a far more practical location.

 

upcycled sheds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May Fair Finds

May Fair

This weekend was our village May Fair, an annual event that sees the centre of the village closed to traffic. Stalls, entertainment and refreshments take over the Market Place and surrounding area. I haven’t been able to visit the May Fair for a few years as, until recently, I worked every Saturday. So it was a real treat to spend the afternoon in the glorious sunshine, watch my youngest daughter perform at country dancing and wander around the stalls. (I may also have paid a trip the pub garden on the way home as well!)

When I first arrived I headed straight for the Plant Stall, run by the local gardening group. I picked up these goodies for £7:

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They include: tomato, courgette, mint, sunflower and geraniums.

I also picked up a couple of much needed glass tumblers for 50p:

secondhand glass tumblers

And a rather cute button necklace, again for 50p:

secondhand necklace

I also picked up an interesting collection of second-hand books:

secondhand books

And, finally, this second-hand footstool which cost me £6 and will go with all the other pre-loved items in our lounge:

secondhand footstool

The May Fair also did very well and raised over £5,000! So it was a win-win for everyone.

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What are your green ‘no nos’?

I was thinking about this the other day while trying to work out what I could shave off our monthly grocery bill. There are some things that I will swap, or do without, if I need to cut costs (or for convenience) but these are the things I won’t do:

1. Swap free range eggs for factory farmed

Well this is a bit of a no-brainer. I would rather go without eggs than buy cheaper products produced by caged animals. Where we live we are lucky enough to either get eggs from a local smallholding, or free range ones from the newspaper shop (you get a discount for reusing your egg box)

free range eggs

2. Buy plastic bags at supermarkets

So occasionally I may buy a ‘bag for life’ but I really wouldn’t buy a plastic bag from a shop. As I tend to have a supermarket delivery and veg box there is very little need to use plastic bags. I also use my trusty net produce bags when shopping in the greengrocers (or they provide paper bags) and take loads of cloth bags with me when shopping.

package free grocery shopping

3. Buy first hand

After all this blog is called ‘second-hand tales’! Over the past few years we have made a conscious decision to try to buy second-hand. Rather than automatically going to Ikea, Currys or B&Q to buy a new item of furniture, or electrical item, we have scoured charity shops, facebook sales and ebay to pick up a pre-loved alternative. Not only is this cheaper it is also extending the life of the object. I love the fact that we aren’t buying into the First World mantra that you must buy shiny and new, and buy it often.

second hand sofa, chair and lamp in sitting room

second hand sofa, chair,cushions,picture frames, lamp, piano stool and electric organ (plus bookshelves from reclaimed floorboards)

4. Buy a second car, or drive when we can walk

I’ve written here about how we manage without a second car living in a small rural village. However owning a second car is just a complete no-no. Not only can we not afford it, or find anywhere to park it, it makes no environmental sense. I like the fact that I have to be resourceful when being car-less and that, during the school holidays, the children and I use the local bus service (which still costs over a tenner for an eight mile journey!). Even when we do have the car we have to garage it quite a distance from the house. To be honest I’d rather walk than have to get the car out, anyway.

5. Not recycle

This may seem like quite an obvious one but, yes, I do know people who still don’t recycle! Saying that, I have tried very hard to not need to recycle in the first place. That is, to reduce the packaging and other items that come into our house that can then be recycled. We try to avoid plastic bottles and containers where possible and reply on a doorstep milk delivery in returnable glass bottles, bars of soap and refillable washing up liquid and cleaners, to name a few.

glass recycling bin in the Netherlands

6.Not Vote

Isn’t this the most important one? I know that, living in rural Wiltshire, it often feels like my vote doesn’t count. But I can hardly moan about it if I don’t at least try to change the voting results, or  let the other candidates know that the environmental issue is an important one. If you read this blog regularly you may also know that my husband has stood for the Green Party in both local and national elections. And last year – for the first time ever – the Greens had a candidate standing in every constituency in our county.

There are plenty more things I would like to do on a regular basis, or commit to permanently. Sometimes I feel like a ‘green’ fraud when I think of the things we haven’t done – or could do better.

Top of this ‘could do better’ list is:

1. Switch to green energy provider

2. Refuse plastic straws at all times

3. Remember to always take refillable water bottle (we went to London last Saturday and got caught out by the heat and had to buy a bottle of water)

4. Use refillable coffee cup – or refuse takeaways

5. When shopping first hand, buy from more ethical suppliers (esp. clothing)

There’s always far more to do, than I’ve actually done. I admire those people who can completely give up plastic, live without producing waste, or devote their time (and purse) to causes such as avoiding palm oil products. But I must always remember that I can only do what is possible at the time and, when I look at how our behaviour has changed (especially since having children) we have come a long way in those things we do – and don’t do – to reduce our impact on the environment.

But over to you: what would you do/not do to lessen your impact on the earth?

 

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Welcome to National Secondhand Day: my top five picks

 

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Today is the fourth national Secondhand Day, as organised by the Preloved website. It is a way to celebrate and promote all things secondhand.

Now I don’t need any encouragement to buy secondhand as most of my wardrobe is sourced from charity shops, jumble sales, vintage boutiques and clothes swaps.  But there are other items that I love to source secondhand. Buying secondhand is cheap, recycled, unique and (often) a way of giving to good causes.

Here are my top five non-clothing secondhand picks:

  1.  Books

secondhand Persephone books

One of my favourite things to do is to spend time in a secondhand bookshop: surely one of the greatest joys in life is to browse their shelves. I love the Persephone books but they are expensive firsthand and a rarity to find secondhand. The two editions above, though, were picked up from charity shops.

2) Games

board games at Christmas

As a family we have picked up many boardgames secondhand. Some will stay with us for a long time while others are re-donated, as the children grow out of them.

3) Vinyl

NOW That's What I Call Music

While we have quite a few albums from our teenage years, the purchase of a new record player a couple of years ago, has led to my husband and I searching for secondhand vinyl. We’re quite pleased with our growing collection of Now That’s What I call Music albums, bought for a few pounds each from charity shops.

3) Furniture

second-hand furnishings in cottage sitting room

We practically furnished our lounge with second-hand furniture last winter. The chair was picked up for free from the street. The lamp and keyboard came from the local Dorothy House Furniture and Electrical Appliance store and the shelves were upcycled from old floorboards (also not shown is our secondhand sofa, picked up for £35)

4) Appliances

secondhand breadmaker

We have picked up breadmakers, hoover, toaster, kettle and now an ice cream maker from specialist charity shops that sell furniture and electrical appliances. All the appliances are PAT tested and are so well priced I would never buy firsthand again.

5) Jewellery

secondhand necklace

Not strictly clothing so I’m going to include this. I have picked up rings and necklaces secondhand and have never regretted any purchase. I seem to wear this necklace nearly every day as it goes with everything: not bad for a couple of quid from a charity shop.

If you’ve never tried second-hand before I would really urge you to give it a go. If preloved clothing isn’t for you then skip the garments and go straight for the bric-a-brac or books section. I can assure you that rummaging through charity shops and bagging yourself a bargain is sheer joy!

If you are interested in secondhand clothing I recently wrote about why I’m still charity shopping in my 40s for The Thrift blog here.

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Repair Cafe update

On Saturday we held our latest Repair Cafe. This time we moved it to a nearby village and ran it alongside the regular Community Swap event organised by Corsham’s green group (Transcoco).

Repair Cafe Box March 12 2016 (2)

While the Community Swap event was busy we were less so. It may be because the Repair Cafe was a new addition to the event or we should have had better signing. Stil we had 15 customers in two hours and our electrician, engineer and seamstress were still busy mending and offering advice.

Repair Cafe Box March 12 2016 (4)

Alison, our seamstress, was busy altering some beautiful vintage dresses

Repair Cafe Box March 12 2016 (1)

Our next Repair Cafe will be back in Corsham but we agreed we’d like to take the Repair Cafe on the road again…..

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Repair Cafe…on the road

Tomorrow we are taking our regular Repair Cafe on the road ….well about three miles away!

The Corsham Repair Cafe will be temporarily turned into the Box Repair Cafe (yes there is a village near us called Box: famous for being the childhood home of Thomas the Tank Engine’s creator Rev Awdry, Brunel’s Box Tunnel and Peter Gabriel’s recording studios.)

Now that my work commitments have changed on Saturdays I have been keen to get the Repair Cafe out and about fixing. As our partners, Transcoco, will be running their Give & Take Day in Box, it seemed the perfect opportunity to run the events side by side.

March 2016 posterLet’s see if we can get the residents of Box fixing too!

Second-Hand Sitting Room

Over the past month we have been working on redecorating our sitting room. As we have now decided not to sell our cottage we are concentrating on a) maximising the space we have and b) updating and repainting rooms (ie doing those jobs we have put off over the past few years)

Ever since we moved into our house thirteen years ago we have been keen to remove this old 1930s fireplace:

updating fireplace: before

 

We knew that there was a larger fireplace behind it, judging by our neighbour’s and the age of the houses (dating back to the 1780s). However money was always a factor and, as we had more pressing jobs to do, this project was left on the back burner.

However last month we decided to bite the bullet and arranged for the fireplace to be removed and knocked through. This is the result:

updating fireplace: during

We live a stone’s throw (if you’ll pardon the pun) from the city of Bath, which is famous for its honey coloured stone. There is definitely evidence of Bath stone having been used for our original fireplace but, sadly, its condition was not good enough to leave as it was. So we decided to plaster over the chimney breast and then paint it. I have to say,  I am pleased with the results:

cottage fireplace

The next task will be to find and install a woodburner as an open fire doesn’t work well enough. I’m not sure when we’ll have saved for this but, in the meantime, I think the lights add a warming focal touch.

updating fireplace: after

As we had knocked out the fireplace (and created a lot of mess) the next job was to repaint walls, which hadn’t been touched for ten years, and buy a new carpet. Then there were other fittings and fixtures to add BUT I’m pleased to say nearly everything else in our sitting room is second-hand.

second-hand furnishings in cottage sitting room

The lamp was bought for £30 in our favourite Dorothy House Electrical and Furniture shop in Chippenham. The armchair was – literally – picked up from the street for free about nine years ago. The electric organ has replaced our piano to generate more space in the alcove. Once more it was bought from Dorothy House (with stand) for £35.

The bookshelves were made by both my husband and myself over the past twenty years, all from reclaimed floorboards. I made the top two when I was still a student and my husband made the rest. As you can see I haven’t been so good with decluttering our bookshelves but it’s nice to see all the family’s books on display. This has become a proper reading nook and, at last the children, can have easy access to all their books. We are now working on bringing down all our books from storage in the loft and, if they don’t fit on the shelves, we don’t keep them.

This is another view of the sitting room:

second hand sofa, chair and lamp in sitting room

The sofa is second-hand, bought earlier this year (after our sofa saga of being without anything to sit on for a month!). The cushions and red throw were recently picked up in a local charity shop, as were a couple of the black picture frames hanging on the wall.

I’m really pleased that we have been able to keep within budget for this project and feel that the blend of new and old work well together. With some research and hunting around I think it is as easy to buy second-hand furniture and fittings for any room. I don’t care that the sofa has a few marks on it, or that the lampshade isn’t quite to our taste. In time we can replace this. I do like the fact that these pieces are bought from charities, have saved us money and also have a story of their own to tell. And we haven’t had to make any trips to Ikea for this project!